“You think words will stop the Nazis?”
During World War II, Czechoslovakian resistance fighters — led by paratrooper Karel Vavra (Alan Curtis) — plot to assassinate Nazi Commander Reinhard Heydrich (John Carradine), with devastating consequences.
Notorious as both Douglas Sirk‘s American directorial debut, and perhaps the best film to come out of Poverty Row‘s Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), Hitler’s Madman has, unfortunately, not held up very well. Functioning largely as wartime propaganda, it does manage to effectively highlight the many atrocities carried out by Nazis in Czechoslovakia (particularly the brutal finale — an infamous crime against humanity), but it suffers from trite dialogue (“Hope — I’d forgotten there was such a word”), wooden acting (particularly by Alan Curtis in the lead), and an overall production air of “Hollywood Studio as Europe”. Evidence of Sirk’s visual genius emerges every now and then (particularly in the use of extreme angles), and John Carradine is well-cast as villainous Heydrich (Peary nominates his performance for an Alternate Oscar!), but the limited script and cast prevent this from being anything more than simply dated entertainment.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- John Carradine as Heydrich
- Early evidence of Sirk’s talent with composition
No. While it’s listed as a film with historical importance in the back of Peary’s book, I don’t think film fanatics need to see it.